South African Communist Party deputy general secretary Jeremy Cronin, who is also deputy Public Works Minister, is correct in his call for the reinstatement of corruption charges against President Jacob Zuma.
The charges relate to Zuma’s alleged involvement in the country’s multibillion-rand arms deal. Zuma’s former financial adviser, Schabir Shaik, was found guilty of fraud and corruption by the KwaZuluNatal High Court in June 2005 and sentenced to 15 years in jail for trying to solicit a bribe for Zuma from a French arms company involved in the deal.
Last week, the high court in Pretoria ruled it was irrational for the then national director of public prosecutions, Mokotedi Mpshe, to withdraw the charges in 2009.
The high court ruling came shortly after the Constitutional Court had ruled that Zuma had violated the constitution after failing to comply with Public Protector Thuli Madonsela’s remedial action on money spent at his Nkandla homestead. Zuma has himself been demanding a chance to have his day in court to clear his name.
Appearing in court and answering to the nearly 800 charges offers him such an opportunity to once and for all put to rest a matter that has haunted him for years. There are so many dark clouds hanging over Zuma’s head.
His relationship with the controversial Gupta family among them. Zuma cannot allow any more controversies to inflict further damage to his already tarnished image, that of his party and that of the country.
It will be unwise for the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) to appeal the North Gauteng High Court’s ruling which was so damning – it is unlikely another court will reach a different conclusion. Sadly, the NPA has not covered itself in glory.
Obsession with ruling party politics has left the NPA’s integrity in tatters. The organisation’s reputation has been damaged to the extent that ordinary South Africans no longer have confidence in the institution’s ability to prosecute without fear, favour or prejudice.
The Zuma case offers the NPA an opportunity to redeem itself. To achieve this, the organisation will have to demonstrate its commitment to treat all citizens equally before the law, including SA’s most powerful man.